Tulsa’s Holloway honored

Thursday, 18 December 2008
The University of Tulsa’s Wilson Holloway is the winner of the FedEx Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award.  Holloway, a red-shirt freshman offensive lineman from Oklahoma City, has battled cancer since last spring, when a softball-sized mass was discovered in his chest.

Holloway, from Edmond, Oklahoma and Oklahoma Christian High School, will be presented the award at the BCS Championship Game on Jan. 8 in Miami.  He will also be honored that day at the Football Writers Association of America’s annual awards breakfast.

“I don’t think anyone sets their goal at the beginning of the year that, ‘Boy, I hope I win the Courage Award,’” said Tulsa co-offensive coordinator Herb Hand.  “But … I can’t think of a better guy to get it.  On top of that, once he whips this cancer, he’ll be a tremendous player for us and he’ll be an inspiration to a bunch of people.”

After Holloway was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, he underwent chemotherapy treatment throughout the spring and returned to play for the Golden Hurricane this season on special teams and in a reserve role.

Last October, however, tests on a swollen lymph node showed the cancer had returned.  He began a treatment cycle that included two rounds of chemotherapy with three-week breaks between, followed by five straight days of treatment during which he was sequestered in the hospital.

Despite the cancer, Holloway played in six games – including one game (Oct. 26 vs. Central Florida) after he had begun treatment.  When he began losing his hair, his fellow offensive linemen shaved their heads.  Hand did, as well.

His coaches and teammates say through it all, Holloway has remained optimistic and determined.

“The natural thing a person asks in that situation is, “Why me?’”  Hand said, “Whether Wilson has ever asked himself that or not, you’d never know just because of the way he’s handled it.  He’s shown an unbelievable courage and a great spirit and attitude.”

“There’s a light on the other side,” Holloway told the Tulsa World.  “I’m keeping an upbeat, positive spirit about it.  God doesn’t put anything on us that we can’t handle.  That’s the one reason that I’ve been so calm about it.”

“We’re extremely proud of Wilson’s courage and his faith,” Tulsa Head Coach Todd Graham said.  “His example to our team has been absolutely outstanding.  We’re so excited for him to be honored this way with the Courage Award.  It’s an unbelievable reflection on such a great human being…

“He’s been a tremendous example to everyone on how to face adversity and that’s with an unbelievable faith and determination.  He’s got a spirit that is extremely unique and has been an inspiration to our team.”

When Holloway began losing his hair, his fellow offensive linemen shaved their heads

The Courage Award was created by ESPN The Magazine’s senior writer Gene Wojciechowski, also a FWAA member.  A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner each year.  The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship.

Previous winners of the FWAA’s Courage Award are Navy’s Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson’s Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis’ Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State’s Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo’s William Bratton (2002).

Celebrating its 75th anniversary, the Orange Bowl Committee is a not-for-profit, 333-member, primarily-volunteer organization.  It is a self-sustaining, independent organization that supports and produces activities and events that enhance the image, economy and culture of South Florida.  In addition to the 75th edition of the Orange Bowl Festival, which features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the FedEx Orange Bowl on January 1, the Orange Bowl Committee will host the 2009 FedEx BCS Championship Game on January 8.  For more information on the 2008-09 Orange Bowl Festival and its events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities, log on to OrangeBowl.org.

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,000 men and women across North America who cover college football for a living. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game day operations, major awards, a national poll and its annual All-America team.

2008 FedEx Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
· Artrell Woods, Oklahoma State
· Terence Campbell, East Carolina
· Johnell Neal, Central Florida
· Wilson Holloway, Tulsa
· Inquoris “Inky” Johnson, Tennessee
· Richard Bowman, North Dakota State
· Tyson Gentry, Ohio State
· Chris Ogbonnaya, Texas
· Robert Quinn, North Carolina
· Brandon Antwine, Florida
Last Updated ( Thursday, 18 December 2008 )